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Stat Snapshot: Adding Up the U.S. Travel Trade Surplus

@jclampet

Skift Take

The U.S. continues to attract more tourism spend than it loses, despite increased travel abroad, highlighting the industry’s importance in the country’s long-term tourism growth.

— Samantha Shankman

The U.S. has attracted more tourism dollars than its residents have spent overseas for at least 14 years, according to data released last month by the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries.

Exports — which includes money spent by foreigners on passenger airfares, local transportation, food, gifts, entertainment, medical care, and education — consistently outweighs imports — money spent by Americans on the same travel costs overseas.

The monthly balance of trade surplus has swayed between $1 billion and $7 billion for the past 14 years.

Although the number of Americans traveling overseas is increasing (up 2 percent to 61.9 million people in 2013), the rate of foreign visitation to the U.S. is growing even faster. The U.S. welcomed 70 million international visitors, a 5 percent increase year-over-year.

The U.S. economy both loses and gains the most in tourism spend during the last quarter of the year.

Monthly tourism spend brought into the country via foreign visitors is consistently the highest in December. The highest monthly imports, or money spent by Americans overseas, usually take place in November.

Below is a chart outlining the monthly surplus of trade for the past 10 years:

Travel Trade Surplus 2004-2014

Year Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
2013 $6,568 $6,559 $6,349 $6,280 $6,515 $6,345 $6,464 $6,808 $6,675 $6,359 $6,562 $6,581
2012 $5,320 $5,442 $5,757 $5,986 $5,947 $6,113 $5,682 $6,369 $6,012 $5,680 $6,167 $6,255
2011 $5,554 $5,569 $5,752 $5,838 $6,020 $6,244 $6,184 $6,315 $5,928 $5,967 $5,888 $5,926
2010 $4,191 $4,316 $4,531 $4,449 $4,672 $4,869 $5,037 $5,071 $5,090 $5,180 $5,157 $5,385
2009 $3,541 $3,301 $3,347 $3,452 $3,779 $3,813 $3,555 $3,519 $3,438 $3,741 $3,637 $3,930
2008 $3,282 $3,209 $3,916 $3,505 $4,199 $4,389 $4,166 $4,133 $3,707 $3,801 $2,969 $3,606
2007 $2,037 $1,857 $2,291 $2,035 $2,404 $2,573 $2,655 $2,629 $2,721 $3,205 $3,343 $3,686
2006 $1,937 $1,402 $1,371 $1,519 $1,543 $1,575 $1,914 $2,007 $1,880 $1,559 $1,559 $1,663
2005 $1,620 $1,768 $1,844 $1,987 $1,901 $1,816 $1,721 $1,697 $1,580 $1,640 $1,398 $1,686
2004 $1,294 $1,311 $1,608 $1,389 $1,188 $1,237 $1,488 $1,138 $1,209 $1,308 $1,415 $1,497

Amounts in millions, seasonally adjusted
Source: Office of Travel and Tourism Industries

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